Turn to the Lord, submit your life to Him, He cares for you.

At the end of the book of revelation we read these encouraging yet unbelievable words:

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” (Revelation 21:3)

The gods of other nations are always distant. They don’t have time for humans. Human’s are second class in their mind, servants who were created through various means for their own pleasure and use. Gods don’t typically come to take up residence with their creation, just as kings typically don’t take up residence with their people. No, they live in a castle distanced and protected from the people.

The God of Israel, the God of the Scriptures, does not distance Himself from man. We are the pinnacle of His creation, created in His image to reign and rule on His behalf (Genesis 1-2). He placed the first humans in the garden in Eden to work and keep it on His behalf. They were to serve as little “k” kings, reigning and ruling over all creation. They, however, didn’t recognize their privileged place and sinned against the Lord. You can read about in Genesis 3. Their sin plunged the whole world into a corrupted state.

God did not give up. He went on a rescue mission for His people, even sending His own Son to die in their place as a means to bring His people back into fellowship with Him and so He could tabernacle among us once again. Here, at the end of the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, we see God doing just that. He brings His kingdom, described as a new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1), so that He can live among us once again. 

We don’t become His slaves, instead we are His children who live a blessed life. A return to Eden, if you will, takes place when God’s holy city drops out of the sky. The promise in verse 4 is amazing, awe and hope inspiring: 

Revelation 21:4 reads,

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

What an amazing God we serve! A God who actually cares for His people. Don’t turn to the counterfeit gods of the world who cannot and will not deliver on their promises. They do not care for you, nor will they provide you what they say they will. Only heartache and death results from following the gods of the world. But life and peace is the result of following the Lord our God. 

Turn to the Lord, submit your life to Him, He cares for you. 

Revelation, a mystery and a certainty

“Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” (Revelation  11:15)

Revelation is a mysterious book. At times, well most of the time, it is hard to understand. I like to refer to it as the final exam of the Bible because it pulls in imagery from all the books before. In order to understand Revelation, you need a good handle on the rest of the Bible. Reading Revelation in and of itself will be difficult if you have not read and do not have a good grasp on the meta narrative of Scripture. The overarching story of God’s Word that follows a trajectory from Creation to Restoration.

While Revelation may be difficult to understand, there are parts that are clear. Today’s text is one of those texts. We learn that Jesus’ kingdom will reign forever and ever. It will never cease. It will always be. We can count on it because the Creator of the universe promises it. The Creator of the universe we read about in Scripture. The One who has fulfilled countless promises throughout redemptive history.

Do you believe and trust that God will establish His eternal kingdom one day on this earth? Are you convinced that everything will be restored? That sin will be wiped away and we will live in the world in which we all hope? The book of Revelation is difficult in many ways, but it is clear that Jesus will return, His future kingdom will be established, and we will live in the world for which mankind longs, if you are a follower of Jesus.

Advent proves God’s promise is a reality

“The LORD swore to David a sure oath from which he will not turn back: “One of the sons of your body I will set on your throne.” (Ps 132:11)

Our God is a promise keeping God. He made a covenant with Abraham and reaffirmed that same covenant with his sons. He also made a covenant with the nation of Israel when Moses led them. Then again with David, promising that He would always have a son on his throne.

The covenants were unconditional and conditional at the same time. The next verse says,

“If your sons keep my covenant and my testimonies that I shall teach them, their sons also forever shall sit on your throne.” (Ps 132:12)

Many of us know the story of the kings. Incase you have forgotten or are reading about them for the first time, they did not obey the Lord. They didn’t keep His laws. Sure, some of them led the nation to repentance. But one good apple among a sea of bad ones will not do. The overall trajectory of the nation was bent toward’s idolatry and injustice.

The Lord, however, had made a covenant with His people. He promised to be their God. He promised one of David’s sons would sit on the throne. God fulfilled that promise Himself.

During Advent we are anticipating Jesus’ coming. He is the Son of God who did what Israel and the kings could not. He perfectly fulfilled God’s law, living for the Father’s glory and according to His will. He never sinned against the Father. As a result, He was granted the right to sit on the throne of David forever.

Advent anticipates His first coming and it points to His second coming where He will bring the kingdom in all its glory. To be sure, Jesus reigns and rules now. But in the future His reign and rule will be consummated. His kingdom will come and those who oppose Him will be cast out of the city gates, so that those who align themselves with God’s will can live securely inside the city of God for all eternity.

Will you be a citizen of the kingdom to come? Do you hope in Jesus’ second Advent? Will you celebrate His first Advent this year, worshipping and praising Him as the shepherds in the field did that glorious night? Would you travel half-way around the world like the wise men to lay gifts at His feet? Do you know the Savior? Do you have a love for Him? Do you bow to your King, recognizing that Jesus indeed is Lord?

In Uncertain Times Turn to the Lord for Rescue

“Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” (Ps 124:8)

God is the One who created all things. He is the One we should turn to for help. In Acts 12, God is the One who helps Peter. Wrongfully imprisoned and held until the feast of Unleavened Bread was over, Herod was going to have Peter killed at the pleasure of the Jews.

Peter, guarded by several squads of soldiers, found his way out of prison and out of the city. Peter’s did not fight his way out of the prison. Nor did a band of soldiers enter the prison and rescue him from the mighty Roman’s. An angel of the Lord rescued Peter. The angel rescued him without drawing any blood. The chains holding Peter literally feel off. They walked back the guards, and the iron gate leading into the city opened on its own accord. Peter escaped by the help of the Lord!

God is our help in present troubles. He has the power to help us. He is the Creator of heaven and earth. He literally fashioned the sun, moon, and stars in place. He molded the planet we call home. We were made in His image. Our Lord is our help.

Sometimes God rescues and restores in miraculous ways. Other times He does it in the ordinary. At times, He doesn’t rescue at all. In the same episode in Acts, James was killed while Peter was rescued. James’ death doesn’t point to an impotent or slumbering God. God accomplishes what He desires when He desires. We must remember God’s will doesn’t always match our will. He was done using James but not Peter. While James passed on from this world, he entered a greater world where he is able to see the Lord face to face.

In uncertain times, don’t turn to man to rescue you. Turn to the Lord. Trust in His will. He has a plan. His plan will not be thwarted. He will accomplish that which He has purposed. We should glory in God’s rescue as well as His use of us to accomplish His purposes.

Glory be to God!

How Can We Experience the Joys of the Kingdom?

In verse 27 of Revelation 21, John tells us that,

“…nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Re 21:27)

And again in verses 14 and 15 of Revelation 22, John tells us that only

“…those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.” (Re 22:14–15)

Clearly, not everyone is allowed to enter and experience the joys of the kingdom. What is that dividing line? What determines whether a person is in or out of the kingdom? In other words,

How can we experience the joys of the kingdom to come?

In verse 27, John mentions the Lamb’s book of life. He tells us that our names have to be written in it if we are going to enter. As well as he tells us that no one who is unclean will be able to enter.

How do we become clean?

In order to be clean, we have to have had our robes washed. It is not clear from this verse how or in what way our robes must be washed, but back in chapter 7 in verse 14, John tells us that those who have already entered into Jesus’ presence have washed their robes in the blood of Christ.

How can we wash in the blood of Christ?

The blood of Jesus isn’t a product we can run down to Walmart and purchase. How, then, can we have our robes washed in Jesus’ blood? The only way we can wash our robes in the blood of Jesus is to believe the gospel.

The gospel

The gospel is shorthand for good news. In biblical terms, the good news is that Jesus has taken our punishment for us. You see, we are sinners who have sinned against God. In other words, we live in rebellion. We want to do our own thing. As those who have rebelled against God, we deserve to be punished by Him.

But God sent Jesus, who not only lived a perfect life but also died the death we deserve. He took our punishment on Himself when He hung on the cross at Calvary.

All those who would admit that they live in rebellion to God and deserve His punishment for doing so, as well as all those who believe that Jesus suffered and died in our place, in order to make a way for our relationship with the Father to be repaired, all those who would repent and believe those things will be covered or washed in the blood of Christ.

When the Father looks down on us, He doesn’t see an unclean people but a people who have been made holy through Jesus’ blood. As a result, we are able to enter and enjoy the blessings of the kingdom to come.

No other way

Apart from repenting and believing in Jesus, there is no other way to enter the kingdom and enjoy the blessings that come with it.

Open to all

The good news in all of this is that the ability to be washed in Jesus’ blood is open to all. Look at verse 17 of chapter 22,

“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” (Re 22:17)

We all can come. Coming costs nothing. We don’t, nay we can’t, pay for the water of life. It’s freely given to those who repent and believe.

So if you haven’t yet repented and believed, heed Jesus’ words and come. If you are thirsty and desire life eternal, come. If you want to experience the joys of the kingdom, come. Come to Jesus!

If you have turned to Jesus, and if you do believe in Him, then praise God because you have a perfect world, ruled by a perfect King, with unhindered access to God to which to look forward.

Question for Reflection

  1. Will you be a part of the kingdom to come?

Resources

Post developed from my sermon The End of God’s Restoration Project